Is Climate Change Behind The Heat?

Inside Dakota Ag

A dry interval in our wet cycle on the Northern Plains may be more responsible the summer's heat than climate change.

Published on: August 2, 2012

Naturally, everybody’s talking about the weather. It been hot and dry and lots of people wonder why.

“Climate change” is the pat answer.

However, one of the meteorologists I follow -- John Wheeler, with WDAY-TV in Fargo, N.D., where I live -- says the summer's heat isn’t the direct result of a warming globe.

“Actually, the frequency of 100 degree F days in Fargo has been in decline in recent years,” he wrote in a recent column that appears in the Fargo Forum. “During the drier 1970s and 1980s, 100 degree F days occurred at an average of 1 or 2 a year [in Fargo]. However, since 1989 during a mostly wet period, there have only been four 100 degree F days. There was only one in July 19995, two in July 2006 and one in July 2012. All four occurred during dry intervals of the overall wet period of the past 20 years.”

Rain falls from clouds south of Fargo, but dries up before reaching the ground.
Rain falls from clouds south of Fargo, but dries up before reaching the ground.

Wheeler concludes, “There are numerous indications of a warming around the world, but 100-degrees F in Fargo is more of a representation of the dryness of the soils than a changing climate.”